Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A man, a wolf and a whole new world - Telegraph

Steve Gooder tells the tale of a British-born hunter and his mighty foe - and how their duel in the dying days of the Wild West led to the birth of America's conservation movement

It was the moment Ernest Thompson Seton had been waiting for. After months of frustration, the professional wolf hunter finally had his quarry in his sights.

Ernest Thompson Seton (top) and the photo he took of Old Lobo caught in four steel traps

He raised his Winchester rifle and prepared to put a
bullet between the eyes of "Old Lobo", a notorious wolf that had killed hundreds of cattle.

But, face to face with his adversary for the first time, something deep within the hunter changed. He slowly lowered his gun and decided to take Lobo back alive.

The year was 1894 and it was a moment that would prove a crucial turning point, not just for Seton, but also for the fate of America's wilderness and its wild creatures.

British-born Seton had grown up with wolves on the Canadian frontier and written the definitive manual on how to catch them. More than two centuries earlier, his Scottish ancestors had helped wipe out the last of Britain's wild wolves.

Yet there was another, less bloodthirsty, side to Seton. His backwoods childhood had left him with a real love and fascination for nature and he would eventually go on to become both a leading light in America's emerging conservation movement and a tireless advocate for the protection of wolves.

It all began in October 1893, when Seton travelled to a remote corner of New Mexico "to catch vermin". What had once been the land of the Apache and the buffalo had now become the domain of cattle ranchers, and the last remaining wolves were being picked off as fast as the bounty hunters could trap and shoot them. But a few "outlaw wolves" still eluded capture.

Among these elite survivors was a reputedly giant beast, known as Old Lobo, who had thwarted every attempt to kill him. Seton was merely the latest in a string of would-be assassins who had come and gone.


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Mary Elizabeth Bradley said...

Please correct error in article After the Fire as Seton was 86 years old at death, not 96.

Thanks for this correction.

Mary Elizabeth Bradley
I lived at Seton Village one year prior to Mr. Seton's death in 1945, during the final months of WW II.